War hero in plea to help raise £1.5k for disabled veterans' trip to TT
Just £1,500 stands between a group of disabled ex-servicemen and a trip to the Joey Dunlop Foundation Lodge on the Isle of Man that has been four years in the planning.
The visit will allow them to experience the annual TT motorbike event in June.
Organiser Robert Maxwell, from Co Down-based group Let's Do, plans to take 12 disabled veterans - three of them from Northern Ireland - over to the Isle of Man for a six-day trip that will coincide with the opening of a new extension of the lodge. He is now appealing to the public for help, because the funding he has secured won't cover a suitable bus and driver to transport the group around the island.
One of the local men hoping to go is a former soldier who lost his legs in Afghanisan, while another was left with a sight disability after an explosion.
"He got some ball bearings in his face in Iraq, he lost one eye and has limited vision in the other. He has even got a ball bearing in his heart, which could kill him at any time," explained Robert.
"They (the insurgents) had set up this bomb at the top of a bridge, the guys were doing a river patrol.
"The bomb was timed to explode as they passed and peppered everyone on the boat, a couple were killed."
The group are to stay at the Joey Dunlop Foundation Lodge, which is adapted to meet the needs of disabled and able-bodied guests.
"We are staying there, but in order for us to get around we have had to hire a special minibus and driver," Mr Maxwell said.
"That's my biggest concern, to see about generating the funds for that.
"We have had lots of logistical issues around this trip.
"But now we have to try and find £250 per day for a disabled minibus and driver, which the Isle of Man government is providing, but which we are not getting any discount on."
Mr Maxwell said he also hoped to raise positive publicity for former armed services personnel.
"I'm ex-armed services myself, I am disabled," he said.
"What we are trying to draw attention to is that even after you move out of the conflicts there are people that get left behind. They are too proud to ask for help, they don't want to be spoon-fed.
"What we do is connect with these guys on social media. The plan is to look after people with a wide range of disabilities.
"We have done trips to various places, we know that the trip has to be gauged on the most disabled person and what they will be able to get out of it."
The lodge at Braddan Bridge House in the Manx capital Douglas has apartments adapted to the needs of all disabled guests, allowing them to experience the famous TT race event.
It was formally opened by Joey Dunlop's widow Linda in June 2010.
An extension was recently added to the building.
- More information on the Let's Do group can be found on its website, http://www.letsdoevents.info/. To help with the cause, donations can be given via the Lets Do Veterans Support Danske Bank account no. 50133558, sort code 95 06 79.